Helder Moutinho makes us wait for every new record. With a twenty years long career, Helder's new album O Manual do Coração will only be his fifth album, three years after the release of 1987, unanimously and rightly aclaimed as one of the greatest records of "New Fado" (whatever that may be) and of portuguese music in 2013. Prior to that, the Fadista had only released Sete Fados e Alguns Cantos (1999), Luz de Lisboa (2004), and Que Fado É Este Que Trago (2008).
Truth is, that is the required time for Helder Moutinho to shape, carve and work each and every new project to perfection, in between his multiple roles (as a booking agent, editor, producer, manager, singer, songwriter...). And to ensure that each new album isn't just one more album.
For O Manual do Coração, Helder Moutinho renewed the cumplicity that binds him to João Monge, one of the most acomplished and celebrated portuguese authors and lyric writters. Monge had written four lyrics for Helder's previous album, 1987, linked to one of the four "stories" told in that album. "At that time, I realised that he wanted to write a whole album, more than a set of loose songs", explains the Fadista. "And he told me that, when I wanted him to, he would write for me for a whole year, and do nothing more".
Whereas Helder's previous records had a very strong narrative, "telling us one single story in each album, this one tells us a variety of stories", he says, "that are part of the Heart, that are bound to our emotions". The lyrics in Manual do Coração where born from long conversations between Moutinho and Monge, recounting experiences, episodes and stories that happened, both personally or to friends.
And, since the beginning, it was decided that every melody included in the album would be original compostitions. "We agreed that, as soons as every lyrics was finished, Monge would see who would be the "face" for that poem, and we would invite him to compose the music." The first guest was the azorean Zeca Medeiros, followd by Manuel Paulo Felgueiras, Vitorino, João Gil, Pedro da Silva Martins and Luís José Martins (Deolinda), Ricardo Parreira, Marco Oliveira, Carlos Barretto and Mário Laginha.
O Manual do Coração his composed, in his majority, by fados-canção, although some of the compositions follow the structure of traditional fado. As explained by Helder Moutinho, that "quest" for new compositions and the decision to not use any melody of traditional Fado compositions, something that has been a staple of Helder's career, was essential and important on this new record. "Although I defend and support traditional fado", says, "it wouldn't make any sense for these lyrics to be fused into traditional fados that had been recorded countless times. And I believe these songs will become new traditional fado compositions"
The ideia of O Manual do Coração as a "collection of tales and stories" will be present on stage production - "with various stories linked to a single place, which will be the showroom, stories that are mainly from this album, and sometimes from previous albums". And confirms the versatility of an artist of rare integrity - a singer that only releases a new album when he has something to say. Helder Moutinho may make us wait, but we're truly glad he does!